tv PBS News Hour PBS December 14, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
revives the conversation about school safety and how to talk to children about violence, subjects we address once again tonight. >> warner: then, ray suarez profiles three young immigrants in the u.s. illegally and seeking a reprieve from deportation. >> my values and customs are now american. so, you know, the idea of getting kicked out to korea and never come back to the u.s., i just can't even imagine this >> woodruff: mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news. >> warner: and we examine the growing turmoil in egypt on the eve of a referendum vote on a new constitution. >> one of the major-- has been one between islimus and nonover the future of egypt and the character of the nation >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
>> bnsf. >> support also comes from carnegie corporation of new york, a foundation created to do what andrew carnegie called "real and permanent good." celebrating 100 years of philanthropy at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and friends of the newshour. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: a gunman at a school, mass casualties, and emergency crews-- the scene was eerily familiar and, once again, horrifying. this time, tragedy struck at a grade school in a small connecticut town. 20 of the 27 dead are children.
we begin our coverage with president obama's emotional address to the nation this afternoon. >> we've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. and each time i learn the news, i react not as a president but as anybody else would, as a parent. and that was especially true today. i know there's not a parent in america who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that i do. the majority of those who died today were children. beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.
they had their entire lives ahead of them. birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. so our hearts are broken today. for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children. and for the family its of the adults who were lost. our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well. for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain. as a country we have been through this too many times. whether it's a elementary school in newtown or a
shopping mall in oregon, or a temp el in wisconsin, or a movie these never aurora or a street corner in chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. and we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics. this evening michelle and i will do what i know every parent in america will do which is have our children a little tighter, and we'll tell them that we love them. and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. but there are families in connecticut without can to the do that tonight. and they need all of us right now. in the hard days to come that community needs us to be at our best as americans, and i will do everything in my power as president to help. because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of
us can extend a hand to those in need, to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours. may god bless the memory of the victims. and in the word its of scripture, heal the broken hearted, and bind up their wounds. >> woodruff: ray suarez reports on how the day unfolded. >> suarez: the 9-1-1 call from the school came shortly after 9:30 this morning, and law enforcement officers, including local and state police, as well as agents from the fbi and the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms, were quickly on the scene. at an afternoon news conference,
connecticut state police lieutenant paul vance detailed how officials proceeded once they arrived. >> on and off duty police officers responded to the school, with newtown police immediately upon arrival entered the school and began a complete active shooter search of the building. that included checking every door, every crack, every crevice, every portion of that school. >> suarez: vance also confirmed that there were multiple people dead inside the school, including the suspected gunman. >> there were several fatalities at the scene, both students and staff. there is no information relative to that being released at this time until we've made complete and proper notification. the shooter is deceased inside the building. there is a great deal of work that is undertaken immediately upon locating the shooter. >> suarez: a law enforcement officer told the associated press the alleged gunman was a 20-year-old, adam lanza, whose mother was a teacher at the school. she is reportedly one of the
victims of the rampage. there were also reports the gunman died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and that his older brother is being questioned by authorities. the school, sandy hook elementary, is home to children from kindergarten through fourth grade. the violent episode shook students and their families in the small newtown community, 65 miles northeast of new york city. >> we were running really quick, so then we got to the firehouse and we sat in our classes, and i am really happy we are out alive. >> it doesn't even seem real, it just does not seem like it's even possible. you read it in the paper or see it in the news, and you're like, "oh, my god, that poor family." and then, you have something happen so close to home, it's like... i think i'm still
in shock, to be honest with you. >> suarez: and connecticut governor dannel malloy addressed the shooting late this afternoon. >> you can never be prepared for this kind of incident. what has happened, what has transpired at that school building will leave a mark on this community and every family impacted. >> suarez: today's occurrence in connecticut is the latest mass shooting this year. most notably, in july, a gunman opened fire at a midnight screening of the latest batman movie, killing 12 and wounding 58. today's school attack ranks as the second deadliest crime of its kind in american history, only behind the virginia tech shootings, with 32 dead, in 2007. >> the associated press sid the gunman's brother is cooperating and not believed to have any questions. ap also said three guns were found, pooh pistols including a glock and .223
rifle in the back of a car. for more to a reporter who has been at the school and on the scene today. craig lemoult is with wshu public radio in fairfield, connecticut. i spoke with him a short time ago from newtown. craig lemoult, thank you for joining us. i understand you went to the sandy hook elementary school today after the shooting. tell us about it. >> yeah, i did go this morning. where i got was actually to, there is a fire station just around the corner from the sandy hook elementary school that they were using as a staging area for parents to come. i got there as a lot of parents were arriving and trying to get to where their kids are. and there was, i wouldn't call it a panic but there was a lot of concerned parents. and i saw a lot of relieved faces as they got there and saw their kids were safe. >> warner: did you get an opportunity to talk to any of the parents or any of the
children? >> i did, yes. i spoke to a couple kids and to their parents. the children told me that they were in class doing just ode things, just like they ordinarily would. and they started hearing some banging. and the teachers told them that it was a lockdown. i was actually, i got to say, surprised that kids knew what a lockdown was, that is a sad statement. they practiced this before. and they all raced into a coatroom before they were ultimately evacuated from the building. i spoke to other people who witnessed children being carried out of the building. and the parents that i spoke to basically were just remarkably relieved and terribly surprised that something like this could happen in what really is a very quiet town. >> warner: i know that right now even as we speak everything, a lot of new information keeps coming inment but what you can tell us about the suspected shoot ever who has been identified in some report of this
20-year-old lanza. >> we have confirmed that the shooter was the son of one of the teachers. there are names going around that are being reported. the officials have not identified the shooter or any of the victims yet. officially. so i am not at liberty to say. but what the name of the shooter was but we have confirmed that it was the son of the one of the teachers. also officials, state police are confirming that there was another-- there was another fatality, another homicide in sandy hook today. and they do believe, of course, that that is related. >> warner: and then what can you tell us about newtown, one of the fathers said he couldn't believe something like this would happen in a small town like newtown. >> yeah. it's a small, close knit community. and in a really quiet part of the state. you know. it's a suburb but it's almost really more rural.
and you know, i talked to a police official here who was asked when the last murder in this part of town was, in newtown or sandy hook. and he couldn't remember. he couldn't remember the last time. he said it had to have been more than ten years since there had been a murder in this town. >> warner: craig lemoult, thank you very much, from the npr affiliate in fairfield, connecticut, thank you. >> woodruff: now, we turn to just some of the many questions being asked about safety, security, and helping children cope in the wake of the tragedy. stephen brock is a professor of school psychology at california state university in sacramento. he's a member of an emergency assistance team for the national association of school psychologists. dewey cornell is director of the youth violence project at the university of virginia. he is a forensic clinical psychologist. we hope to be joined by mo canady is the executive director of the national association of
school resource officials, which works on school based policing and security. for now i want to welcome both stephen brock and dewey cornell. i will start with you stephen brock. you've dealt with this sort of thing before. what was your reaction when you heard this today? >> well, as a school psychologist, as a father, as a person who is no stranger to this kind of loss t was quite simply devastating. just a very sad day. >> warner: and dewey cornell. >> terrible tragedy and very frustrating that we weren't able to prevent this. >> let me stay with you, dewey cornell, you have as he said worked with this sort of thing. people look at this and think how could it happen. what do you say when your friends, your colleagues, people who know the work you do, how do you answer that question? >> well, the first thing i try to point out is that calling this a school shooting is a bit of a misnomer. it is a mass shotting that happened to occur in a school. schools are very safe places.
we know objectively that students are safer in school than almost anyplace else. but what's really critical is to understand the relationship between the shooter and the victims. we look for ways to prevent these types of shooting through two key factors. mental health issues that maybe present in the shooter. again in this case it's too early to say and also some kind of interpersonal conflict that was overwhelming to the individual. we really can prevent school shoots and other types of mass casualty shootings. but we've got to think about earlier prevention. prevention has to start long before there's a gunman in the parking lot. prevention has to start with mental health services and resources in the community to resolve problems and difficulties that people have long before they escalate into a serious violent situation. >> and stephen brock we know that in many instances that prevention is taking place. but it's not happening often
enough because so often these shootings occur and it is typically a young man in his late teens or early 20s, a troubled young person. why aren't-- why isn't, why aren't communities reaching these people and what more needs to be done? >> well, again, i would go back to what dr. cornell just mentioned. these events are, in fact, objectively very rare in occurrence. it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. i think we're doing a lot. we could do more. one of these events is clearly one too many. but again i would like to go back to what dr. cornell just mentioned. these events are extraordinarily rare. and objectively schools are very safe places. >> reporter: and they normally are. and with that, on that note, let me bring in mo canady with the national association of school resource officials. you are joining us now. tell us what, how safe are public elementary schools in
this country? so many parents have to be asking that question tonight. >> well, in general i think they're very safe and the comments that you've already heart regarding, you know, the nature of these type incidents that they don't occur very often. of course when they do, they're very high impact. i think that across the country school officials overall do a very good job of working hard to maintain safe school environments. it doesn't mean it's perfect and it certainly doesn't mean that anyone is going to be 100% safe. however, you know, as today's tragedy shows us, it can happen anywhere. >> well, staying with you, mo canady, we know that today we were hearing that the school had a buzz-in system. that there was somebody there checking people who came in. still this young man was still able to get in there, reportedly the son of one of the teachers. what is it that schools could be doing, should be
doing to prevent something else like this as rare as it is. >> well, and certainly there's no way to say that they were not doing the right thing today. it sounds like they probably were. just from what i can tell. but you know, the buzz-in entry system certainly are effective especially in elementary schools. but they're only as effective as the person that is manning that system. but the other issue, of course, is the perimetre security of the building. it's one of the painstaking things that has to take place but someone or some people need to be responsible to make sure that all of those perimetre doors are always secure during the day. and that's really difficult especially with children having the propensity to open those doors. sometimes for people they don't even know. >> well, is there typically a different security system at an elementary school. this was a kindergarten
through fourth grade school than there would be say at a high school? >> you know, i don't know that there is anything that i would really say is typical from what i have seen. but at the same time you do see a lot of the buzz or camera type entry systems at elementary schools. one of the things that we're beginning to see at more schools from k through 12 are visitor management entry type systems. in other words, where the person coming in has to check in with the front desk, has to present an i.d. and has to be cleared to go into the building. of course the gunman who enters, that is a whole different set of circumstances. >> and dewey cornell coming back to you in your comment a minute ago about the need to identify troubled individuals earlier on, you know, again, we've had this. we've seen it happen. the aurora colorado shooting, columbine years before that, what happened recently in washington state. it happened every part of the country.
what more do people tonight as they go home and have dinner with their families and as they talk to their children, what more do we need to be doing? >> well, we can't turn our schools into fortresses. we can't turn movie theatres into fortresses or shopping malls into the fortresses. we've got to think about prevention as something that's done far earlier. when there are conflicts, when there are troubled individuals, when there are people who are extremely angry and up set and frustrated, as a society we've got to be more willing to reach out to those individuals, to-- we need to have mental health services available for those individuals who need it. we need counselling and mediation services available and domestic situations where there's intense conflict that hasn't resolved. but we've got to start before it escalates into a violent situation. and if we can provide these services more generally, we'll have a healthier society an we'll have fewer of those cases that rise to this extreme unusual level.
>> and in those situations, people say well i knew someone who was troubled but i didn't know if that was the point to intervene or not. is there one message for everyone or is it-- individual by nature. >> we don't want to wait-- there's no magic signal that says oh, this person is going to be violent. we're not trying to intervene because we have some prediction of violence. we're trying to intervene because a person is troubled. because they're in a conflictive situation or they're experiencing mental health symptoms. there is a great reluctance for people to recognize that someone is having serious emotional difficulties. and it's all right for them to seek treatment. we need threat assessment teams that could help identify troubled individuals in troubled situations and facilitate referrals for services. >> stephen brock, finally let me come back to you on this question of again, tonight, as families around the country are thinking about what happened. what should parents and grandparents be saying to
their children, their grandchildren. should they wait for the children to bring it up. how should families be dealing with this. >> that's a really good question. i think it's important that parents be open and available to talk to their children. yet at the same time not force a conversation. i like to say let children's questions be your guide. let your children know you are able, you're available and willing and able to talk about it. but not push them. and not especially don't give them unnecessary details about the event. one thing i think i might tend to be more assertive about putting forward, and that is a thing you have heard from all three of us so far, is that objectively schools are safe places. and i know that might sound like a contradiction today because this is a very sad day. and the tragedy is horrible. but school its are safe places. and parents need to be reassuring their children
that the schools that we send our children to on a day-to-day basis are very, very safe places. >> warner: . >> woodruff: well, that's an important message to take away on this terrible day. we thank you all, stephen brock, mo canady, dewey cornell, thank you. >> warner: still to come on the newshour: a temporary path for young immigrants; shields and brooks; and egypt's coming vote on a new constitution. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. will send patriot missiles, along with 400 troops, to turkey to protect against possible syrian missile attacks. the troops and missiles will be a part of a larger nato force that includes german and dutch troops as well. defense secretary leon panetta announced the new moves at an air force base in turkey. >> we are deploying two patriot batteries here to turkey along with the troops that are necessary to man
those batterees so that we can help turkey have the missile defense it may very well need in dealing with threats that come out of syria >> sreenivasan: a number of syrian shells have landed in turkish territory since the conflict in syria began in march of 2011. the environmental protection agency announced much tighter new rules for soot pollution today. the agency is limiting the amount allowed into the atmosphere from smokestacks, diesel trucks, and other sources of heavy pollution by 20%. the new standard goes into effect in 2014. residents in coastal california faced another day of flooding after a "king" tide pulled the pacific ocean farther ashore than normal. residents waded through streets filled with ankle-deep seawater. the tides are the result of an occasional astronomical alignment. tides are expected to reach 7.3 feet, a level that hasn't been seen since 2008. it was a down day for wall street as investors steered clear of stocks because of
uncertainty over the fiscal cliff negotiations between congress and the white house. the dow jones industrial average lost more than 35 points to close at 13,135. the nasdaq fell nearly 21 points to close at 2,971. for the week, both the dow and the nasdaq lost two tenths of a percent. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to margaret. >> warner: next, an update on a new administration policy allowing young immigrants living in the u.s. illegally to stay here. the "deferred action for childhood arrivals" program began four months ago. today, the department of homeland security announced that more than 100,000 young people have been granted a temporary reprieve from deportation. 368,000 have applied, less than one-third of the nearly 1.3 million people estimated to be eligible nationwide. we turn again to ray suarez for a look at how the program is working in california, the state that leads the country in applications. >> sorry, i just, like, practiced this speech today.
>> suarez: to hear sinyoung park in a class at ucla, you'd assume she, like most of her classmates, is a california kid. and she has been, but only since she was 11, when her parents brought her here from south korea on a tourist visa. >> the thing is i feel like this is where my home is. i remember very little of it, but most of it is just through pictures that i have of my childhood, and like most of my remembered memories are just here. my values and, like, customs are now american. so just, you know, the idea of getting kicked out to korea and never come back to u.s. is... i just cant even imagine it. >> suarez: sinyoung is one of an estimated 1.3 million young people here illegally who now qualify for a new federal policy initiative called deferred action. she applied after the president
announced the program in the rose garden last summer, citing a failure by congress to pass the so-called "dream act." spearheaded by the department of homeland security, the operation marks a major change in how the country has handled immigration enforcement in the past, says secretary janet napolitano. >> we've identified at least this one category of young people that we really feel are almost in a different situation, >> suarez: you could call california america's capital of deferred action. it's estimated that more than a quarter of all the potentially eligible young adults in the country live right here in this one state. now, when applications didn't come flooding in after august 15, some advocates figured it was because people were waiting for election day, to see whether former governor romney or president obama would be managing the policy going forward. but then election day came and went, and there was no spike in applications. there are many possible reasons for that. for starters, unlike the dream
act, the deferred action program does not include a path to legalization, just a two-year pause in the threat of deportation. applicants need to prove: they were under 31 when the program was announced; were brought to the united states before age 16, and have remained for at least five years without leaving; have no criminal record; and have a u.s. high school diploma or its equivalent, or have served in the u.s. military so, what, a line ran down the block here? >> yes. in fact, it went all the way out there, i would say a mile away. lots of people, full smiles, entire families. everyone thought that they would fill out a three-page form, and that they would now be on their way to a new life. >> suarez: quick like that. >> that's right. it wasn't like that. >> suarez: jorge-mario cabrera is with the coalition for humane immigration rights in los angeles-- "chirla" for short. the group runs daily orientations to explain the
process, and has helped prepare thousands of applications since deferred action began. but its not nearly as many as they expected to see in the aftermath of president obama's re-election. the cost-- $465 per applicant, plus lawyers fees that can run upwards of $1,000-- is a big deterrent, especially for families with multiple children. and people who've spent years laying low now have to prove they qualify. >> it requires that someone knows where they have been the past ten years, 12 years, almost to the point of day by day. well, it was kind of complicated, a lot of things had to be done. i had to go get my transcripts from school, i had to get background check. >> suarez: fernando fuentes works full-time at a sheet metal plant in compton. he operates this 33-ton turret press that cuts metal for commercial lighting fixtures. the 26-year-old has worked here since high school, long before
his new work permit and social security card arrived in the mail last month. he was granted deferred action after his boss agreed to vouch for the fact that he'd been employed there, illegally, for the past five years. critics like dan stein, head of the pro-immigration enforcement group fair, say that casual attitude toward workplace enforcement is a big problem. >> everyone can understand and sympathize with the equities of a population of people, some of whom were here young, maybe their parents brought them here, but we have to look at the precedent. >> suarez: stein calls the whole program unconstitutional. >> it's a usurpation of the congressional power and the prerogative the constitution explicitly gives to congress, that sets the terms and conditions on who can come to this s untry anano can stay and under what conditions. >> here it is. >> suarez: fuentes says he knows many americans don't want him to be able to have this card to stay in the country.
he works 60 hours a week. he's trained himself to customize cars, trick them out with the latest electronics and fancy upholstery, and now that he can work legally, figures deferred action is good for him and america. >> i'm not going to be hiding from anywhere, and i'm going to keep on doing the right thing, >> suarez: immigration attorney carlos batara has been asked plenty of times to help undocumented young people like fernando apply for deferred action, and he doesn't encourage them. >> you're willing to risk and assume that they'll never come back and use the information you've given them against you to bring you into removal proceedings, and if you assume... or you assume the dream act is going to pass, that's fine. go to another attorney. i cant do it. i think that almost borders on malpractice. >> suarez: so what guarantees do applicants have that their information won't be used against them in the future? >> we have provided assurance
that information we get will not be turned over, say, to ice. if a person is not eligible, absent some very specific, very serious exceptions. really the choice is for a young person-- do they... do they want to go in so that they don't have to worry about being picked up somehow? or do they want to just continue living the way they live now? >> suarez: the challenge and complexity of confronting the legal and political challenges is on full display as one american family sits down to dinner. the family matriarch first came to the u.s. in the late '70s, gave birth to a citizen child, then went back home to mexico, where sister and brother sonia and javier were born. as children, they were brought to america to live, where their little brother missael was born, and is a citizen. like his citizen niece and nephew, sonia's children, whose father, cesar, came illegally, and has been in the legalization process for 15 years.
javier volunteers at deferred action clinics like this one in pomona, california, when he's not in class at the local community college. he applied for deferred action himself just last month and is anxious to get his work permit. >> with that work permit, i think definitely the first thing would be being able to get a job and having an incoming coming in, secure income coming in, and being able to pay for my education, go to school at the same time that i'm working. being able to provide rent money for my mom, which i haven't been able to do because i don't have a job. >> suarez: javier called his sister the day the president announced the new policy. sonia, who preferred to give only her first name, has years of college, no criminal record, and has been in the country since 1989, but it turned out she was too old by just ten months. >> at first, i was like, it was a frustration, i wish i could have had the opportunities that other dreamers had. i know.
but at the same time, i'm glad, because lots of my family members, they qualify for the program, so it's great. my brother's one of them. >> suarez: javier expects to hear back any day now about his application. for him, deferred action is just a stop on the way to a stable future, a way to get legal work, and hope congress gets to work on long-term solution for him and his family. >> warner: what's the connection between the dreamers and john lennon? you can read about the role the former beatle played in paving the way for deferred action and the dream act on our homepage. >> woodruff: and to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. >> so gentlemen, we've all been torn up all day long today with this terrible shooting in connecticut. david, it just is beyond
understanding, so how do we make sense of something like this? >> well, the first thing that occurs to me is that you realize the tremendous difference between the process of the grief, the process of the shock, the process of processing all we're feeling today and the policy process. one is just innate outpouring of grief. and then the policy process is about cost benefit analysis, about studies and counter studies. you're trying to figure out what would work. so you feel almost cheap on a day like today. you think down the road we'll talk about what works what doesn't. already the debates are started. gun control, all the different policy options on the table. but i am willing to enter into those debates, i guess. but you just want to register the, just the emotion you feel, the scene, the empathy you feel for the parents and so on. >> woodruff: the president certainly did that today, mark. but seems to me we are at, we asked same questions over an over again, every time one of these things --
>> you're right, judy. i agree with what david said. the president, his remarks and james brady in the press briefing room, james s brady who was shot and crippled permanently in the assassination attempt when he was press secretary for president ronald reagan in 1981. we have the thoughts and the prayers and the flags at half-mast. but what we don't have and it's the hallmark of i think of a cowhering political and public body, that is we don't have a debate. we don't have a discussion. and the question about, is not whether somebody stands for or against us. whether we can bring it up. and the reality is that in the united states of america in 2012 it's easier in many states to rent an automobile to buy an automatic weapon than to rent an automobile. it's more demanding.
and i just, you know, one of the things about having been in the marine corps is that they teach you how to use guns. they teach you how to use rifles and handguns and automatic weapons. and you come away with just one conclusion. if you reflect on it, and that is they are tools of destruction. they are meant to kill people. that's all, they're not supporting equipment as jim lehrer has remarked. they're not tennis racket, they're not shoulder pads or baseballs. i mean they are tools of destruction meant to do what was done today. and i just think our society has failed to confront, and particularly our political leadership but all of us have failed to confront it. gee, it's too tough an issue. but the reality is there are too many guns in hands of people who just should not have them. and if we can licence people who clip our toe nails and promote price hikes then we sure as hell ought to be
able to licence people who have automatic weapon its. >> woodruff: how do you see this? >> well, i guess i don't know anything about this case. we don't know who the shooter is i guess we know now what the weaponry was. but after the aurora case i tried to look into, and made my best decision about what would work. and it's very frustrating because it's very hard to find things that would work. but there are sort of two avenues. there is the mental health avenue which is, and it should be said that in the 98% of people who have mental illnesses are not violent, even people with schizophrenia does not mean they are violent. but there is a small minority who do become violent. and so my belief was that being more aggressive, more assertive in trying to find those people and trying to deny people with those particular shorts of mental health issues access to guns was the way to go. i think would be helpful in the media if we did to the publicize these people especially if they committed suicide. don't put them on the cover magazines. don't put their faces on tv. don't release their names. i somehow think that would diminish the perverse
heroism of it. as for the gun issue, i think there is a good case to be made for gun control because of the normal amount of killing that goes on with guns. i am a little more skeptical that gun control would reduce these sorts of incidents. because if you look at where they happen, they happen a lot here, they happen a lot in your, they happen in korea, and norway was the worst. some of these are very tight gun control regimes. second the people without do them tend to be disturbed but also meticulous planners. and in a country with 300 million guns i'm skeptical we can keep it out of their hands. so i might be willing to pursue, i think it is a good idea to pursue more gun control. i am skeptical it will prevent these case. >> woodruff: the president said today something should be done, regardless of the politics, in so many words. do you think that is going to happen? >> i don't know. the president has to lead. i mean because it's obvious that with what we have, the national rifle association is essentially has paralyzed
the political process in this country. and democrats who have any sort of rural constituencies are terrified to support gun control or even to bring up the subject. and republicans are in lock step, just sort of reflecting on the second amendment. i mean we did ban machine guns in this country. you know, that's been done. and bazookas. we have had success in certain weapons and you know, it requires an enormous national will. but i don't know how else we're going to get that debate going except by the tragedy of -- >> i would just purely on the political politics of t a few points, first gun ownership is way down. we are at a historic low. second oddlying and i'm not sure why, i don't have any explanation for this, support for gun control laws has dropped significantly over the last 20 years. i'm not sure why that is. the third point is that these kind of shootings
historically have had no effect on public opinion in the gun debate. and i guess pie final point would be i think if we're going to control guns, we really have to do a massive, i think i'm all for getting rid of the assault weapons and machine guns and all that tough but if we want to prevent something like this, we have to really think seriously about drastically reducing the number of guns in our society. and particularly an old patrick moynihan idea, the number of bullet its. it is hard to control 300 million guns. the bullets are a little easier. >> woodruff: that makes it unlikely, isn't it, that something would happen? >> i think we won't know until, you know, until somebody take its that leadership. i mean there have been, you know, a few lonely voices in congress. and chuck schumer, senator from new york has raised it. but it's going to require obviously a larger coalition than that. >> woodruff: a couple of other things that have happened this week. i want to ask the two of you about. david this really pushed out of the news the story that everybody was talking about last night, that susan rice
withdrawing her name to be secretary of state. what finally moved her to take her name out do you think and what does it is a? >> well, i don't really believe it was without white house acknowledgment. if she had a sense the white house was going to fight for her. she would be happy to fight. she had a piece laying out the case for her. i think it is a pretty decent case. i hate it when these things happen when there is no egregious scene committed and there certainly was none in this case. and so i wish frankly she, somebody would have fought a little harder for her. i think-- . >> woodruff: you are saying the white house didn't fight. >> well, the president made a very strong case early on. and then she went to the fill and things deteriorated. and then it sort of has been nothing. and maybe they didn't want to nominate her at all. we don't really even know that. but she certainly was left hanging around for a little while without much support. and they clearly decided this was not the fight they were going to have. >> is there a lesson in all
this? >> well, don't be the good soldier. she was the good soldier. the secretary of defense and state refused to go on the sunday programs to explain what the policy and what the findings were in benghazi. the secretary of cia did to the go. and so susan rice did. on that fateful sunday after the ambassador's assassination. i think that's probably the first example, first lesson. she was out there by herself. i mean make no mistake about it. the chorus of support was pretty muted. and when the criticism came she-- the president said she was extraordinary and got a big hand at a cabinet meeting but i didn't see anything further organized on her behalf. an there were obviously beyond john mccain's own apparent vendetta from the 2008 campaign, there was when you get susan collins and people like that starting to line up against you, i mean it seemed to be
a building that was going to be a tough fight. >> i would just say she was not her, she became i think for the opponents a symbol of the libya policy which a lot of people didn't like the way the libya thing was handled even before benghazi. and so if should not reflect on her professionalism and competence but she became a symbol. >> woodruff: we'll find out in a few days whether it's john kerry or somebody else. and talk about that later. >> well, just, john kerry is interesting. he and ted kennedy were never close even though both senators were from massachusetts together. but like ted kennedy he has become i think a better public servant and certainly a better senator since he lost the presidency. kennedy after 1980 became really the dominant figure in the senate. i think john kerry since he lost the presidency and gave up all hopes of the white house has become a far more formidable, influential and important senator. and i think it would be a different kind of secretary of state. >> less than a minute.
job boehner may have gone back to ohio for the weekend. fiscal cliff, do you know something behind the scenes that's happening that we don't foe about? >> i know the gestalt which is negative. that maybe we'll have some limited deal but it doesn't look good this week. it has not been a good week. >> remember this, we have not voted on any entitlements in this country since 1983. we have not voted to-- the republicans have not voted to i raise a tax since 1990, no republican in the house or the senate has voted. i mean this is-- we're heading into a major area. so if it's halting, it's slow, if it seems not quite open and dynamic, be patient. you know, i think we'll get there. but i do think it's going to be difficult. >> woodruff: we're glad the two of you are part of our gestalt. mark shields, david brooks. >> thank you
>> warner: finally tonight, to egypt. egyptians will go to the polls tomorrow to vote on whether to approve a newly drafted constitution. but the path to that vote has deeply polarized the country. it's been nearly two years since exuberant egyptians, backed by their own military, forced out hosni mubarak after three decades in power. but in recent weeks, the streets outside the palace he once occupied have been the site of counter-demonstrations and clashes between egyptians who'd joined forces in early 2011. seven people died last week, with hundreds more injured, in hand-to-hand fighting between secular and liberal egyptians
and members of islamist groups, like the muslim brotherhood. they were fighting over what the new man in the palace-- former muslim brotherhood figure, now president muhammad morsi-- has done to bring about tomorrow's vote on a new constitution, including a late-november decree granting himself unchecked power until the vote. that led many to compare him to his reviled predecessor. >> ( translated ): i want to say that we protest against mubarak because he polluted our revolution with blood. morsi, like mubarak, he did the same thing. >> warner: morsi said the decree was needed to ensure egyptians could vote on the new charter without interference by mubarak holdovers in the judiciary. >> ( translated ): the revolution has passed but will not stop. however, i must put myself on a clear path that will lead to the achievement of a clear goal. >> warner: that clear goal is a constitution that reapportions powers among the president, parliament and military, and changes the role played by the islamic code of shari'a. opponents charge it will let the party in power smother the rights of women, minorities, political opponents, and the press. >> people understand, without
reading the constitutional draft, that this is a power grab. >> warner: motion picture actor khalid abdalla was a leader of the revolution in early 2011. he is now involved in mosireen, an online video activist group. >> the constitutional draft that they are proposing to the country is essentially a sugar- coated poison pill, in which i wish the sugar was real but, ultimately, it's saccharine. we're being told that here is the constitution that is going to ensure your rights. but what it is is a roadmap to ensure muslim brotherhood dictatorship and control of power over egypt for the next 10, 20, 30 years. >> warner: not so, say morsi's backers, who insist there are plenty of new limits on presidential authority. >> these checks and balances are a good way forward. not the perfect way that our generation or even our creed as revolutionaries wanted, but
certainly a step in the right direction, and a big step at that. >> warner: gehad el haddad is a senior adviser to the muslim brotherhood's political arm, the freedom and justice party. >> the president does not have most of the powers he had in the 1971 constitution. the president actually got stripped from about 60% to 70% of his powers. all of the powers that he has are put on the checks and balances from the parliament of both houses. >> it would be unfair to say that this constitution establishes the possibility of dictatorship or anything approaching the authoritarianism of the mubarak regime. >> warner: samer shehata is a professor of arab politics at georgetown university. >> there were articles in the old constitution which did not limit presidential terms, and so mr. mubarak was, essentially, president for life-- 29 and a half years. this constitution reduces term lengths from six years to four years, and stipulates that the president can only be re-elected once, two-term limits. >> warner: opponents also charge
the proposed constitution lays a foundation to impose stricter islamic law over a country with many strains of islamic thought, from secular to severely religious, and a 10% minority of coptic christians. morsi supporters have in fact been chanting "bread, freedom and shari'a" at rallies, and this morsi backer in alexandria seemed to have that expectation. >> ( translated ): i support the president and i think that opponents fear the growth of the islamic political current. they know that if the people vote yes, the islamic constitution will rule for a long time, and that will affect the lives of the opponents of the president. >> warner: it's a prospect that deeply alarms many more liberal- minded egyptians. >> ( translated ): the brotherhood are here to occupy the country. we will not let them. we don't need them to teach us what islam is all about. we are much better muslims than they are, and at least we aren't hypocrites. >> warner: samer shehata says
there are reasons for concern, especially in the role it gives clerics at a leading islamic university in determining whether a piece of legislation contracts sharia. >> certainly, it emboldens the idea that islam should play a larger role in politics and also in the social code and law. i think everyone in egypt and anywhere else would say, yes, the shari'a means social justice, it means equality, it means fairness. that's what my grandmother's interpretation of shariah is. unfortunately, there are some in egypt, islamists of different stripes that have a very different interpretation of the shari'a that have to do with limiting the rights of non- muslims, limiting the rights of women, possibly limiting some kinds of freedoms of speech and so on. >> warner: even more divisive than the particulars in the constitution has been the way it's been shaped, a process
controlled first by the military, and then the muslim brotherhood and new islamist- dominated parliament rammed through, opponents say, without regard for the views of other segments of egyptian society. that divide may be hardest to heal. secular and liberal forces say though some of them were involved in the constitution- writing process, they had little influence against the islamists. most ultimately walked out. "that's not dialogue," says khalid abdalla. >> if you're going to talk, you don't pull a dagger on me and say, "i'm threatening you." and that's ultimately the way in which the process is being guided by the muslim brotherhood and the muslim brotherhood leadership, and shows the methodology which they're using to force this country to accept something that reorganizes the state in a way that entirely fits their agenda and their agenda alone. >> warner: gehad el haddad disputes the charge. >> i don't think it's a rushed process, because the constitutional assembly took six months in the writing, and they didn't start from scratch, either. they started from well-written drafts of various groups in the society itself.
>> warner: el haddad says he understands the opposition's frustration, but it's time to move on. >> i think that we really need to be responsible and civilized enough and look at the full half of the cup, knowing well that we have another half to fill up. >> warner: many apolitical egyptians clearly yearn for their leaders to start filling that half-empty cup. in khan el khalili marketplace, 60-year-old pensioner mohamed taha bemoaned the upheaval that has kept tourists and business away. >> ( translated ): we want life to go on. it doesn't matter if people say yes to constitution or say no. >> warner: but samer shehata says it may be hard for egypt to move on after the vote. if this referendum is adopted, is approved as expected, where does that leave egyptian society? >> it produces a very divided, polarized egyptian society, one
in which many of those liberal secular voices will feel that the constitution is an illegitimate document, and that certainly is not healthy for democratic consolidation in egypt. >> warner: for an egypt still waiting for the promise of the revolution to be fulfilled in its citizens' daily lives, that would be a bleak prospect indeed. we asked two experts to weigh in on the discontent in egypt. read their responses on "the rundown." >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: a gunman walked into an elementary school in newtown, connecticut and killed 26 people, including 20 children. the killer then committed suicide. it was the nation's second deadliest school shooting after the virginia tech massacre in 2007. an emotional president obama called for "meaningful action" to prevent such shootings. and our coverage of the tragic shooting continues online. hari sreenivasan explains. >> sreenivasan: we will file updates from connecticut tonight and over the weekend as
the investigation continues. check our homepage for those. also there, you can watch president obama's emotional address to the nation. on tonight's edition of "need to know," a profile of a program in memphis, tennessee, that combats poverty. find a link to that that and more on our web site, newshour dot pbs dot org. margaret. >> warner: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll update the investigation into the connecticut massacre. i'm margaret warner. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you on-line and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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